Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Five Hills. Free Range Pigs. Called Home.

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I got an early start today and was on my way by 7:45. I hoped to beat the heat, since I was dreading the five hills that I had to climb. Three were rated "hard" and two were "moderate" according to the Lonely Planet guide. It seems like there a couple of extra thrown in that evidently didn't rate a mention in the guide. Much of the ride was inland. I'd be looking ahead and on both sides and see nothing but steep hills and wonder where the road could possibly go.

The humidity wasn't present today and the early start helped, although that first hill (a "hard") was, as always, a killer. IT seemed to get better as I went along. I just had to pace myself. I developed a mode of just pedaling a bit slower, not trying to force the pace on the hills and counting steps. I go about 1000 steps or until my heart rate went above 155, then I'd stop (preferably in the shade), rest, take a drink and wait until I caught my breath. It seemed to work. Usually there would be at least a view to stop at.

The road was pretty quiet for the first half of the ride, except for the birds and cicadas. At about halfway through I passed a road that went to a quarry or sandpit, because, all of a sudden there were all these big double-lorry heavy bulk trucks coming and going.

I was glad to get out of the Waihau Bay campground. Black flies. My ankles and legs really got nailed last night. They still itch badly. I didn't notice until it was too late.

As I was coming out of the camp store yesterday afternoon, a fellow pulled in with a bike on the back of his car. As I asked him if he was doing some riding, his partner pulled in on her bike. They were going around the East Cape by alternating rides. One would do 50km, then they'd switch. They'd left Opotiki yesterday morning and had done what had taken me three days. As I was stopped at the top of my second climb of the day, taking a drink, he came zooming by on his bike and disappeared down the road.

I spotted cell phone towers while climbing out of Hick's Bay. When I got to the top of the hill there was a scenic view turnoff. So I did. I took few pictures, pulled out the cell phone (the signsl was excellent) and called home. It had been nearly a week without internet access, so I'd had no contact outside of the East Cape. The highlight of my day (and week) was talking to Ellen for a while.

The Te Araroa campground was empty when I pulled in about 1pm, but it has filled in a bit now, about half small tents car camping and half campervans, mostly private. The park is in pretty good shape. They just built some new ensuite accommodations (at $120/night--my tent site $11) and a couple of those have been taken. Like most of the ones on this route, they don't seem to have any sit down space in the kitchen or have a lounge, but since I was the first here, I scored the picnic table.

The camp is very pet friendly. The folks across from me have their Dachshund along in their campervan. Unlike the Bongo, this one is one of the big ones, a year old, complete with the slide out BBQ and the satellite dish and the small car towed behind.

It's not only pet friendly, but it seems generally animal friendly. There seem to be some free-range pigs that came wandering about this afternoon, a sow and three piglets. They were pretty tame. The sow and one of the piglets came over to look when I tried to take a photo. They even sniffed at my hand. Soft noses, but the bristles aren't. They weren't the only hogs either. Shortly after, a hedgehog came trundling past the front of my tent, blithely ignoring all of the people.

I rolled the bike and trailer today. Fortunately, I wasn't on it at the time. I'd stopped to take a photo and noticed a ripe blackberry bush in the fence next to the road, so I parked the bike by cocking it at a right angle to the trailer. As I was picking a few berries, I heard a noise and turned to see the bike roll back fall down and it and th trailer rolled completely over and landed against the fence. The only damage was the flag pole on the back of the trailer was snapped. Of course, I then tweaked my hip getting it back up.

My right hip and my right ear are the only parts giving me any trouble. The hip seems to be sore most mornings, probably from sleeping on it. Today is the only time that I've felt anything while riding and that was after I got a twinge picking up the bike. My right ear seems to be blocked in the mornings, but only once I've started riding. I think the Eustachian tube is congested, because it eventually clears, although it took most of the day today.

More hills tomorrow. There are three hill rated "hard climbs" in the 20km from Te Araroa to Tikitiki. I'll be in the midst of the hilly inland portion of the East Cape road. We'll see how it goes.

Today's photos:

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